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No Outer Reflections—Only Inner Connection

Karnamrita Das

(this blog is recorded on the full blog page: quick time player is needed; works best with Firefox or Explorer; if you are using Google Chrome it will automatically play, so if you don't want to listen, mute your speakers.)
No reflection photo No mirrors_zpsmj6bfvdh.jpg

[What if this happened to you?] Hearing celestial sounds like wind chimes but with ethereal notes of cavernous resonance and depth that gave me goose bumps, I wondered if I was dreaming, or in some heavenly place. Rising up from bed, I was wide awake—at least I felt super awake, yet strangely for me, fascinated and enlivened. The unusualness and loveliness of the reverberations were quite astonishing, as was the fact that I couldn’t make out a direction from where it was coming from. I felt like I was wearing surround sound headphones or in a room with speakers in every direction, included up and down. Feeling joyfully confused I was curious if I was hearing through my physical ears, or from within? I couldn’t tell, though I knew this was an extraordinary, other worldly experience. Every cell in my body was also vibrating to the all-pervading concert.

I rose and turned on the light. Looking around, it was my room alright, yet it seemed it was breathing, or moving to the music. Everything was pulsating, contracting and expanding. I saw the room and its contents as moving flecks, atoms, I guessed, and the particles of air seemed like flowing, effervescent mist. No, I wasn’t on drugs—I know what that’s like from my past. This was not a chemical hallucination. I was so sure of that—as sure as I live and breathe and experience, but even more than that, as I was hyper alert, yet in the most natural way possible.

I went into the bathroom and turned on the light. There were no mirrors. Just the bare unpainted walls where mirrors had been. Instead of a mirror image, I could sense myself as a conscious being. Wow, that was quite an improvement! Actually everything seemed divine and in harmony. Every part fit with every other part. Nothing was separate from the Source, yet each thing had its own existence, but in perfect cooperation with the Center. I thought, “This is how life should be.”

Not wanting to wake my wife I went downstairs to the kitchen. Turning on the light, I looked in the windows which usually reflect back my image. Nothing.

Taking out shinny pot lids and spoons—anything that might reflect back—I stared hard to find my face, but nothing reflected back anything but the room. It was like I wasn’t there, or was a ghost who was invisible. Was I dead? Hmmm. I didn’t think so. I put on my kitchen shoes, so I couldn’t be a ghost, but I wasn’t sure of my perceptions. What was real? Who was I behind the now invisible mask of my earthly appearance? Perhaps I was in some kind of alternative universe. What other explanation could there be? The celestial concert was still vibrating, though now the volume had receded to the background like a drone, and the walls again seem solid. However, the sense of spiritual harmony remained, and, looking at my watch, time was still working. Two hours had whizzed by since I awoke.

It was time to begin my "regular" day. Still there were no mirrors. So I brushed my teeth and remembered many verses from scripture about the underlying universal harmony and how every person and everything we can observe is all connected to God, or Krishna. Drying myself after showering, I looked at the empty wall where the mirrors had been. I wondered about putting on tilak (the clay markings that go on the forehead and 11 other parts of the body to designate it as a temple for service). There would be no way to know how the marks on my forehead looked, but then, no one else could put theirs on perfectly either. This would be interesting. I found it rather meditative and liberating—to be without judgment.
Our altar photo FSCN2788_zpsm2yfhimm.jpg
Dressing in my East Indian, or really, Vedic devotional dress—dhoti and kurta, praying for the inner mood of divine love and devotion (bhakti)—I went downstairs to wake our home Deities. Chanting prayers to glorify the Lord, I opened the Deity doors, and paid my obeisances (bowed down on the floor). I turned on the light and lit incense. Touching the feet of my gurus, previous teachers (acharyas) and the many forms of God on our altar, I chanted the appropriate mantras for waking them, and offered them a hand to rise up from bed to take their place on the altar. I put away their beds and then replenished the water in their cups. Siting before them I chanted my gayatri mantras. Then I grabbed my beadbag for beginning my morning meditation by chanting on beads the Hare Krishna mantra (japa).

Although I was elated from what I had experienced so far, I had a difficult time focusing on the chanting—and distracted, or inattentive japa, isn't helpful for optimum spiritual advancement and for remembering the Lord. I had to stop and think what was happening. Surely there was some important purpose, as nothing happens by chance or accident. I know in theory that I am a soul having a human experience, or as we say, “I am not my body,” yet I also know that we can’t just deny the physical—been there, done that—we have to realize the theory in a way that works practically. I discovered long ago that we have to be at peace with our embodiment, knowing full well its shortcomings and drawbacks so we’re not complacent, and yet seeing that our life is a great opportunity for self or God (Krishna) realization. Whatever can help us to realize our true spiritual self should be accepted, and whatever doesn’t should be given up, or at least not given importance.

I was convinced from life experience my current situation was meant for my spiritual good, and I began wondering about the advantages of not having to look at my face, or being preoccupied with my appearance. Then, as if trying to get out of my current dilemma, I thought about my camera and phone to take a selfie. That's it? I took a selfie with my camera and cell phone, but no image of me came about. I was smiling from ear to ear—it felt like that anyway. As it was for me, it was for everyone. Such is the nature of Universal laws. This means that no one in this different world could see themselves—outwardly at least—we could only see others. I wondered about the implications of such a world for all of us. What came to me at that time was that the present moment's spiritual potential seemed all-important—not my changing face. Of course, as we all have, I had heard before that the present is all we have. However, now I experienced a graphic demonstration of this fact. We are not our past, and our future is in this moment. Hmmmm. Although life with no personal reflection—or seeing one’s mutable face—would take some getting used to, more and more advantages were being revealed. Not being distracted by my appearance my other senses increased in power—especially my inner eye.
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Now everyone could only look within themselves for their true beauty and being, and could no longer be preoccupied with their persona, or trying to look good for others. As my Shiksha (instructing) guru has taught me, “Go within, or go without.” With all our extra time not thinking of our appearance, worrying about new wrinkles or age spots, or putting on makeup, we could think of what is really important—our service to Krishna and everyone. We would be able to think more of others, seeing ourselves in them, and we would realize that by serving and caring for them we helped ourselves. Thus we would feel both valuable and beautiful from our qualities and actions. For every seeming disadvantage there is always an advantage, if we have the positive state of mind to look.

Imagine you suddenly found yourself with me in this world of no outer reflection, but inner connection. Take some time and think about such a world and its possibilities. In our current world this might to be only a dream, and yet we can endeavor to create it as far as possible, even with mirrors. We have one another, our life, and the world to practice with. Going beyond our personas, we can think of the welfare of all, and remember the true value of time in helping others and giving our heart and service to Krishna, seeing him within all.

"He who sees systematically everything in relation to the Supreme Lord, who sees all living entities as His parts and parcels, and who sees the Supreme Lord within everything never hates anything or any being./ One who always sees all living entities as spiritual sparks, in quality one with the Lord, becomes a true knower of things. What, then, can be illusion or anxiety for him?" [Shri Ishopanishad vs 6 & 7]

[To clear up any confusion: This was an inspired visualization I thought of when thinking of a real event, namely changing our home mirrors, and wondering what life would be like without them. So the above picture was real, though this writing is fiction. Since I almost always write about my actual experiences, a some people might be confused whether this actually happened--well, in my mind it did! Think of it as creative contemplation for teaching purposes. With difficulty I endeavor to think of novel ways to help us think philosophically about our everyday life. We take so much for granted and can be on automatic pilot in our daily routine. Thus, if we can change just one perception we can think in new ways and gain insights and realizations that will help us go deeper into our spiritual practice. Having said the previous I also ask you to suspend disbelief and imagine that these events happened to you. What would the implications be? How would your life change for the better? This exercise is the point of this piece of writing.]
Helping others by sharing our gifts photo reaching-out-helping-others_zps011e8d2e.jpg
Lovely Krishna! photo 10931482_10206184019744718_77809017_zpscfa19ada.jpg